Issue:  Vol. 46 / No. 17 / 28 April 2016

Wiener deserves your vote for state Senate

Guest Opinion

State Senate candidate Scott Wiener
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I'm supporting Scott Wiener for state Senate.

Wiener inspires, impresses, frustrates, and drives a few crazy. What I like about him is that he makes a decision, stands by his True North, and rarely shies away from a fight. He's the kind of person I want to see representing us and fighting for us in Sacramento.

The city is currently experiencing an incredible economic boom. Other cities seethe at what we have, including exceptionally low unemployment and many businesses fighting over commercial space. With more than 45,000 San Franciscans who have moved here since 2010, we are bursting at the seams. These historic times call for a seasoned leader who understands the challenges the growth creates and can navigate Sacramento's polarized climate to draft and pass state bills to address these needs. A deeper dive into Wiener's record demonstrates his distinct ability to do so.

Wiener understands how to enable new housing units without drastically changing our city's landscape. Instead of cutting deals, he's changed city policies to create new housing opportunities for all income levels. By exempting all 100 percent affordable housing projects from conditional use planning requirements, developments for those most in need can be fast-tracked. Legalizing in-law units in the Castro is a common sense solution that increases affordable housing stock without jeopardizing rent-controlled units. Developing housing also became easier when Wiener authored legislation establishing clear deadlines for the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, which unanimously passed the Board of Supervisors, as everyone agrees multiple appeals should not be filed on the same project, nor should appeals be made during mid-construction.

Most people are aware of Wiener's penchant for transportation policy. Last year, the San Francisco Transit Riders organized a 22-day "Muni Challenge" to highlight a 1993 law requiring elected officials to ride Muni twice a week. Wiener took on the challenge, logging over 100 citywide rides in the 22-day period. He's even famously ridden Muni with an open door. These experiences have driven Wiener to strongly advocate for critical transportation improvements, like creating a subway master plan so we're planning for the long game. In addition, he's worked to expand Muni to operate 24/7 so that patrons and employees have an affordable way to travel.

As portions of San Mateo County are included in the Senate district, our future legislator must advocate for a regional agenda. Recently, the city considered whether to make the tech shuttle program permanent. Currently, this program transports thousands of workers from San Francisco to Menlo Park, Mountain View, and San Jose. If these workers used cars, our streets in the city and along the Peninsula would be in perpetual gridlock. Caltrain, BART, and Muni are all at capacity, and even Caltrain wrote a letter to the supervisors asking for a permanent program. Despite being in the minority, Wiener never wavered in the fight for a permanent shuttle program as he understood the implications of thousands of cars on our streets.

From time to time, Wiener and I disagree on policy. Homelessness is on everyone's mind; but to remove encampments without ensuring both space and services to accommodate homeless individuals in more supportive surroundings seems pointless to me. I'd rather work to find ways to create readily available supportive housing with services that meet people where they are than drive people out with nowhere to go.

If we do not elect Wiener, San Francisco will not have LGBT representation in our state delegation. At our high point, 50 percent of San Francisco's state legislators identified as LGBT. With Senator Mark Leno being termed out, the situation has changed. We tend to use the "support LGBT leaders above our straight allies" argument in many contexts, and yet the thought of losing all LGBT state representation from San Francisco this November makes this race unique and something to consider.

During his tenure in Sacramento, Leno has been a fierce and tireless advocate for our communities on so many issues, marriage equality, minimum wage, and criminal justice reform come to mind. Leno's leadership on marriage equality stands far above the rest as he introduced state legislation annually. Thankfully, Leno has brought that same determination toward repeal of the Ellis Act. Should Wiener be elected, I hope he continues to fight to repeal the Ellis Act as it has been used to displace so many of our friends and family. Further, Wiener should follow in Leno's footsteps and continue to propose and author necessary affordable housing and tenant protection legislation to create opportunities for more people to live here and stay here.

Our city faces many challenges and we desperately need effective legislators to push a progressive agenda, bring home funding for services, and pass new laws. Wiener has fought for so many issues we care about: HIV/AIDS funding, trees, pedestrian improvements, cycling, paid parental leave, and more. Given his record as a supervisor, I trust Wiener to deliver and I know he'll be a great addition to the long-standing tradition of sending our best to Sacramento. Please support Scott Wiener for state Senate.


Rebecca Prozan is a member of the Democratic County Central Committee.


Next week, look for a Guest Opinion in support of Jane Kim for state Senate.


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